Home / India / Biju Janata Dal sweeps Odisha urban body elections

Biju Janata Dal sweeps Odisha urban body elections

As per the state election commission’s report, BJD is leading in 1,286 wards out of 1,899 wards in 105 urban bodies of the state by a comfortable margin
Naveen Patnaik.
Naveen Patnaik.
File photo

Subhashish Mohanty   |   Bhubaneswar   |   Published 27.03.22, 12:16 AM

In a repeat of its performance in the panchayat elections, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has swept the urban body polls in Odisha.

As per the state election commission’s report, BJD is leading in 1,286 wards out of 1,899 wards in 105 urban bodies of the state by a comfortable margin. BJP is leading in 311 wards, Congress in  143 wards, independents in 137 and other parties are leading only in two wards. Counting is  yet to begin in the rest of the wards.


Despite a high-octane campaign, the BJP failed to win a single mayoral seat in these polls. The municipal corporations of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Berhampur had gone to the polls along with 47 municipalities and 58 notified area councils (NACs)

For the first time, election to the post of mayor was held directly, breaking the long tradition of mayors being chosen by the elected councillors. Coming hard on the heels of the panchayat debacle in February 2022, the defeat in the urban polls has dealt a blow to the BJP’s prospects of doing well in the general elections of 2024.

The BJP was hopeful of winning the mayor’s seat in Bhubaneswar. The contest for the seat was seen as a proxy battle between chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Bhubaneswar’s BJP MP, IAS-turned-politician Aparajita Sarangi.

BJP’s mayoral candidate Dr Suniti Mund had been handpicked by Aparajita who had campaigned for her assiduously. But BJD candidate Sulochana Das, a former journalist, defeated Mund by 61,143 votes.

In Cuttack, the BJD’s mayor candidate Subhash Chandra Singh defeated the Congress candidate Giribala Giri by 45,206 votes. The BJP was nowhere in the contest and polled only 49,223 votes despite fielding popular Odia film star Sritam Das.

In Berhampur municipal corporation, BJD’s candidate Sanghamitra Dalei won the election for the mayor post.

“BJD’s strong organisational network and the sparkling image of chief minister Naveen Patnaik has done the trick for the party. The chief minister has launched a series of welfare programmes for the development of urban areas. He has come out with special schemes for slum dwellers who voted for his party overwhelmingly,” said political analyst Ashutosh Mishra.

Naveen had assigned BJD’s three MLA in the capital region — Bhubaneswar north, Bhubaneswar central and Bhubaneswar Ekamra — the task of ensuring the victory of Sulochana Das. “They were told in clear terms that if the candidate fails to win, they would be denied MLA tickets in the next election. The message was clear and the MLAs did their best for Das’s victory,” said a BJD insider.

Sulochana, the first woman mayor of Bhubaneswar, thanked the people and the chief minister for her victory. “People of Bhubaneswar have confidence in Naveen Patnaik and BJD. I am indebted to Patnaik for giving me an opportunity to serve the people of Bhubaneswar. I am also thankful to all the three MLAs and the hundreds of workers of my party. We will work towards making Bhubaneswar a smart and vibrant city,” Sulochana told reporters.

On the other hand, the BJP’s failure to sway the voters is being attributed to lack of spirited fighting and absence of unity among the state leaders. Besides, the party has so far failed to project a leader who can match the stature of Naveen Patnaik, feel political observers.

In the panchayat election held in February, the BJD had won 766 out of 852 zilla parishad seats, an increase of 290 seats compared to the 2017 polls. On the other hand, BJP could manage to win only 42 seats and Congress 37 seats.

The thumping victory of the BJD has yet again proved its growing popularity. The BJP and the Congress, the two main rivals of the ruling party, failed to win the confidence of voters.

Copyright © 2020 The Telegraph. All rights reserved.